Exclusive: Jeff Buhler Updates Us on the Pet Sematary, The Grudge, and Jacob’s Ladder Remakes; Slash’s The Hell Within; and More!

It’s been awhile since we spoke with Midnight Meat Train writer and Insanitarium filmmaker Jeff Buhler, so we thought it time to catch up with the prolific screenwriter, who offered up a slew of updates on a handful of the genre pics he’s been tapped to write: Paramount’s Pet Sematary retool, Ghost House Pictures’ The Grudge re-launch, and LD Entertainment’s Jacob’s Ladder remake among them, as well as Slash’s forthcoming horror flick The Hell Within.

Of Pet Sematary, a remake of the original 1989 Mary Lambert-directed horror classic, Buhler said of the status of his scripted re-imagining (which is being produced for Paramount by Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Mark Varhadian, with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo set to helm), “They are currently out to cast, and they are going for some bigger names, so it’s taking some time.”

Pet Sematary

Buhler’s collaboration with Fresnadillo will continue in Fox’s upcoming feature film Into the Zombie Underworld, a Serpent and the Rainbow-esque look into the Haitian world of voodoo the pair together developed.

Updating us on the status of that project, Buhler offered, “Juan Carlos and I delivered that script, and they like it a lot. The studio’s really high on the project, and it’s kind of a departure for me, in that it has horror elements, but it’s really a journalistic, political thriller about Haiti and superstition. The script is resonating as a real-world look at some very horrific things that go on, and based on the enthusiasm they will be going out to some big names.”

For more on those projects, see our 2015 exclusive chat with Buhler here.

Regarding Ghost House Pictures’ re-launch of The Grudge series, the new film will be produced by horror legend Sam Raimi along with Rob Tapert and Taka Ichise. Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Joe Drake, and Nathan Kahane executive produce. A re-imagining of the mythology originally set forth in director Takashi Shimizu’s 2002 J-horror flick Ju-on: The Grudge and in his 2004 American remake of the same and subsequent 2006 sequel (with a third in the series coming from director Toby Wilkins in 2009), Buhler said, “Here’s a piece of news, sort of. I delivered the final script in November and worked really hard to get it where it needed to be. Finally, everyone involved has read it, and most importantly Sam and his producing partners are in agreement that it’s awesome. Something completely new but very much a Grudge movie. Everyone is super excited, and they are going out to directors now.”

The Grudge

LD Entertainment’s remake of the Tim Robbins-starring 1990 film Jacob’s Ladder is in a similar state, according to Buhler.

”They are closing the deal with the lead actors right now and moving fast to shoot this summer. What’s so cool about this version of Jacob’s is the producers involved, including Will Packer, who produced Straight Outta Compton and No Good Deed, have a lot of experience with genre movies geared toward an urban audience but that have wide appeal to anyone who loves genre. It’s a really cool approach because there are so many people from different backgrounds in the military who come back from war fucked up. The experience of PTSD is not specific to any one group of people. This version of Jacob’s Ladder will have a more contemporary and diverse look at the world of military families. My version of Jacob’s Ladder is all about the ‘coming home’ process as opposed to these guys in the field still having battles in their minds, so it’s much more personal and emotional. Producers Michael Gaeta and Allison Rosensweig, along with Will Packer and LD Entertainment, are moving aggressively forward.”

Jacob's ladder

As for the “bad seed” project Descendant, a feature script written by Buhler and slated to be produced by Tripp Vinson of Vinson Films with Lisa Zambri and Tara Farney executive producing (alongside Lotus Entertainment, who are also financing) with The Pact director Nicholas McCarthy helming, “They are also going out to cast [at present]”, stated Buhler. “Lotus is financing, which gives us creative freedom. They were looking at strategic partners for a minute, so we were sort of doing the dance with a couple of companies, but at some point they were like, ‘No, this is just going to slow everything down. We have the money. Let’s just go make offers to lead actresses and go shoot the film.’ It’s going to take a couple of months to lock that up, and it’s a fairly contained movie, but based on initial reaction to the script, they want to shoot for some big name actresses. It’s a family- and character-driven approach to horror and elevated enough to attract some real talent. We’re shooting for a late summer/fall [start date].”

For more on Descendant, see our 2015 exclusive interview with the writer here.

The SlashFiction produced and Buhler scripted feature project The Hell Within is also moving forward, regardless of company head Slash’s 2016 reunion tour with his band Guns N’ Roses, says the writer (ABC’S of Death director Dennison Ramalho remains attached).

”We are in negotiations with an incredible actress and close to locking up the other cast on the film,” said Buhler. “I can’t divulge any names, but we’re talking to someone who was intimately involved in one of my previous films who is going to be fantastic. We are looking at shooting this summer in Colombia. Prep is already under way, and we’ve been working closely with KNB Effects to get all the elements of the creature design in place. We’re leaning very heavy on practical effects so there has to be quite a lot of strategic planning. All I can really say is if we capture half of what we’re trying to get on screen, it’s going to be very, very shocking and fun for horror fans.”

For more on The Hell Within, click here.

Buhler promises a more “meaty” update on these projects in the very near future, and rest assured we’ll be there with boots on the ground for the majority of these productions once cameras start to roll.

The Hell Within

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